Faq_toon

FAQs

Beta-fresh answers, uploaded weekly

Lets face it, our favorite comic strip is often obscure or inconsistent, and key characters are sometimes left stranded for years. Long-suffering readers are within their rights to demand some clarification. Use the "Ask GBT" form to email us your questions, and we will frequently answer some of the best!

 

Recent FAQS

Q.

 

I really enjoyed last week's series with Boopsie visiting Elvis's grave at Graceland. Her sincerity and good nature really shone. Of all the characters, I think she and B.D. have changed the most over the years, not that her crazy New Age "Hunk-Ra" period wasn't weird. How about you take us back to her very first appearance in the strip? You didn't include that in the Classics series, and it would be cool to see the young Boopsie.

 

Stephanie | Characters | Santa Monica, CA | September 29, 2014
A.

One thing that has always differentiated Boopsie from other adult cast members is her eyes. "The world-weary, hooded Doonesbury eye looked all wrong on her," noted GBT in 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. "It undercut her lack of guile. The elegant little arc and dot seemed the way to go... Boopsie's eyes, of course, have remained unchanged, a sort of tribute to her enduring lack of cynicism. Not that the rest of her hasn't evolved. The spacey beach babe is gone, replaced by a fierce mama bear with sturdy values and abundant good sense." Beginning with her initial appearance in the strip on September 15, 1971, here's Boopsie as we first got to know her.

Q.

Ah, good ol' Mr. Butts. I was glad to see him in the strip on Sunday, selling cancer sticks to the kids. What a nut. I actually have the ashtray that's pictured in the second-to-last panel, which was part of the Great Doonesbury Sellout, based right here in Sausalito. How about you run an FAQ series about Mr. Butts' very first appearance in the strip, which I think was about a zillion years ago. Thanks!

Stu | Characters | Sausalito, CA | September 17, 2014
A.

Close. It was 1989. Duke was the skipper of Donald Trump's yacht, Boopsie was painting murals in the vessel's bathrooms, Honey was post-Tiananmen China's #1 Most-Wanted Hooligan, Andy Lippincott was still alive, and Mike was working in the World Trade Center, struggling to build a career as an ad-man. ENTER MR. BUTTS.

While we're at it, check out "Mr. Butts Goes to Washington" -- a 1995 public service announcement produced by Harry McCoy for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. As McCoy notes, he quit smoking shortly thereafter. And here's the ashtray. Butts has appeared in the strip many times over the years, and on beach trashcans in Santa Monica, California, helping publicize the city's anti-smoking ordinance. He appeared on the cover of the Journal of the American Medical Association, served as spokescigarette for the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, and had his name used as a pseudonym by an anonymous source who sent 4,000 pages of incriminating documents which were used in legal action against the tobacco industry, as chronicled in The Cigarette Papers.

Q.

Duke's China gig coming to an end means you've skipped past the first of Rick Redfern's career humiliations, when he was forced to take a job writing for People in order to stay with Joanie on the West Coast. Can we please revisit his agony?

Ben Packer | Storyline | Salem, OR | September 05, 2014
A.

Certainly. We are happy to share "People Who Write for People" a strip set from 1977 that even manages to intersect with the Duke and Honey storyline. Read it, and imagine Rick weeping, HERE.

Q.

Great to see Jimmy T. in this week's Classics series. In recent weeks the strip has been re-visiting Ginny Slade's 1976 Congressional campaign. I'd love it if you could please revisit the storyline in which JT wrote and recorded a song to support Slade's candidacy. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, check out this YouTube video, which shows an actual record player spinning the real-world 45 of "Ginny's Song." According to the sleeve (shown on the video) it was produced by Steve Cropper and David Foster, and featured a bunch of kick-ass musicians (including Cropper, Foster, Jay Graydon, and Keth Moon) who recorded as The Walden West Rhythm Section. It was later included on Jimmy's "Greatest Hits" album, which came out a year before Jimmy made the cover of the real-life Rolling Stone. There have been a lot of moments where Doonesbury kind of spilled over into the real world, but I think "Ginny's Song" was probably one of the first. Thanks!

 

P.P. | Storyline | Lompoc, CA | August 29, 2014
A.

Not only are we happy to queue up the "Ginny's Song" storyline, but we'll lead into it with the benefit concert Jimmy threw for Virginia Slade as well. Rock on!

Q.

The wordless strip that ran on August 22nd was a true classic. As I recall, it was at the end of a multi-day slow pan, a piece of work that was absolutely beautiful although it contained no characters until the final reveal. In my humble opinion this series was a highpoint of toondom. Any chance we could see the whole thing?

R. | Storyline | Lexington, KY | August 22, 2014
A.

Of course. The August 22nd Classic strip originally appeared on November 13, 1976, and showed Joanie and Rick in bed together (at the time neither was married). Over 30 papers dropped it, including the Boston Globe, which was picketed by M.I.T. students with signs reading, "Joanie, we forgive you." The Bangor Daily News blocked out the final frame, replacing it with the weather forecast ("Fair, cold, highs in the 30s.") "When I first saw it," the editor of the Huntington Herald-Disptach told his readers, "I thought it was two guys in bed." The three-day wordless sequence is included in its entirety in our extended look back on a night (and a strip) to remember.

Q.

Okay, my tastes may seem a little weird, but as long as the strip is wallowing in the 70s, I would love it if you would please revisit the whole Energy Czar caper, which took place during the 1973-1974 oil crisis/embargo, and gave Mark a chance to revisit his glory days as an activist. It also involved the ancient and dying art of hitchhiking. Can do?

Jack | Storyline | Aptos, CA | July 23, 2014
A.

Can and shall. Your wish is our command. Read it HERE.

Q.

When I saw Duke's denunciation of John Denver in the recent Classic, it reminded me that there's always been bad blood there; it's come up more than once in the strip. Care to give us the backstory?

C.B. | Characters | Anderson, CA | July 03, 2014
A.

Certainly. The conflict has its origin in the mountains of Colorado. It was born in the summer of the strip's fifth year...

Q.

I can't help noticing that there was a certain air of foreshadowing in the strip back when Ray oversaw the handing over of Iraqi security concerns to the local military. With the announcement of US troops returning to take on certain levels of security in the country, could we please take a moment to return to that first day of Iraqi security (or lack thereof)? I seem to remember it was during the World Cup as well...

Schuyler | Storyline | Ames, IA | June 20, 2014
A.

The Ray Hightower sequence your excellent memory has referenced appeared in the summer of 2010, and was followed by a Mel-and-Roz-packing-up-the-helos series a year and a half later. You can read both HERE.

Q.

Speaking of Time magazine (in today's Daily Briefing), it looks like you are skipping past the storyline where Roland writes about the Walden communards and puts Zonk on the cover. How about revisiting that, with the memorable "Peyote and clam dip" line?

M. Dougals | Storyline | Ashland, OR | June 10, 2014
A.

An excellent idea. As it turned out, two years later the Doonesbury cast actually was on the cover of Time. The sequence about Roland's story also includes the line, "You guys are still hippies!" -- and it was only 1974. Time flies when you are having too much fun.

Q.

A few weeks ago you featured the famous strips about Mark Slackmeyer's radio show and Watergate, but I'd love it if you would also re-spin some of the other really early "Marvelous Mark" stuff, when he was just starting out. As I recall, there were a lot of dedications, including one to Bertrand Russell.

Seamus | Characters | Mystic, CT | May 30, 2014
A.

A request we are happy to honor: The future-legendary NPR star first took to the Walden airwaves on WBBY in February, 1973.